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African keyhole bed: a year old  RSS feed

 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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We got one round of poor tomatoes, one round of great tomatoes, and hopefully one more good round before winter hits. There's also sweet potato, oregano, and basil.

I like this bed, but it's way too much work for the amount of planting area you get. Good for folks in cities (mine isn't *that* pretty, but it would be easy to make it look more appealing and satisfy neighbors).
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Alex Ames
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
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It is too much work this year. How much do you suppose you will have to do next year and succeeding years?
I would think very little would be required going forward.
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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There won't be much work in the future on it, if any. But the effort involved in collecting, hauling, and piling the rocks could have been put into making a much larger bed with wood walls, which is now my preference.
 
chrissy bauman
Posts: 132
Location: Sunset Zone 27, Florida
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pardon me, but i can't tell from your pictures...what did you use to irrigate? it's a raised bed, so probably needs it?

it is conventional wisdom to some that gardens need several years of constantly improving to "get good."
what exactly was the hard work part?

also did you try beans in the fall garden season? ours are going crazy this year!

tentance
oldescrubland.blogspot.com
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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Chrissy- see my previous post about hauling the rocks. Maybe I'm just complaining, but I'd rather build wooden walls than haul and mortar stones and end up with such a small area to plant. It would have taken me a week to build enough of these to come out with the same planting area as one of my long wood frame beds, which maybe took a day and a half. (Not working sun up to sun down of course--I have to work too )

Didn't do beans in there. I was out of town during the ideal time to plant, so I'm scrambling now to get stuff in the ground--I'll give beans a try!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think it's great you did this experiment and found out the technique is not for you. That's one of the keys to permaculture, maybe even a principle, to try different things and see what works for one's own situation. I have pondered these beds myself and can't see where I would put them in the landscape of my yard. I've hauled literally tons of rocks making my buried wood kitchen garden, so the hauling of the rocks just seems like regular work to me anymore. It would probably be easier to stack the rocks than to dig them up in the first place. I think this would be useful in a place where there were lots of flat rocks lying around, or in an urban area with broken slabs of concrete to use. My experience with any kind of untreated wood construction touching the earth is it will rot away in only a few years. And I'm not personally keen on the idea of treated wood near food plants, so for me, wooden raised beds don't make sense in my situation. I've found raised beds tend to dry out pretty fast here unless they contain a whole lot of buried wood. Did you find this raised bed dried out faster than non-raised beds? Or did it hold water better?
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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@Tyler-

I have one long raised bed, about 30 feet long. It's only in its 2nd year. It will eventually rot and fall over and become a long mound I suppose...then maybe I'll see if I prefer mounds

That bed is a hugelkultur bed--with one layer of logs and manure underneath the soil. In the heat of the summer I water it half as much as beds that are straight in the ground. I can stretch it a little farther too, but that's just barely keeping things alive and not producing much. When a rain hits the ground beds definitely dry out faster for me.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Chris Dean wrote:
That bed is a hugelkultur bed--with one layer of logs and manure underneath the soil. In the heat of the summer I water it half as much as beds that are straight in the ground.


That is extremely useful information, because I have wondered how much wood is needed to improve water holding ability. I have made some low hugelkultur, about as tall as a 5 gallon bucket, for some new fruit trees, and am eager to see how well they do versus trees straight in the ground (which died).
 
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